Thursday, March 6, 2014

Trailer Park Water Fight

In a drought year like this, competition for water is getting fierce. This was in the Police Dispatch section of the local Tucson Weekly:
A dispute involving a man and a neighbor who said he was only trying to help the man with his rainwater-harvesting efforts ended with the neighbor getting bashed on the head with an empty garbage can, according to a Pima County Sheriff's Department report.
Deputies who were called to the scene interviewed the man, who said he collected rainwater runoff from the roof of his trailer in garbage cans. He said the neighbor came over, ostensibly to help him, but overturned one of the cans almost directly on top of him.
The neighbor said he had noticed a mud stain in one of the garbage cans and wanted to help by cleaning the can with a hose, but he accidentally sprayed the man with water. That's when the man picked up the empty garbage can and struck him, the neighbor said.
After a witness to the incident backed up the neighbor's story, the rainwater-collecting man was taken to jail on suspicion of assault with a garbage can.
Let's try to keep it civil out there people.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A New(ish) Twist on Conservation Justification

In the West you often hear of cities seeking new water supplies by prodding farms to conserve, thereby freeing up water that can be transferred from ag uses to urban uses.  But this article from Durango, CO discusses efforts in that state to encourage additional urban conservation in order to maintain ag uses.  Colorado has seen fairly aggressive efforts to re-allocate water from ag to urban in recent decades and there has been a lot of concern about the effects this will have on rural communities if irrigated agriculture starts to dry up.

California and New Mexico have also had experience with this and similar concerns.  This concern shot down legislation that would have created a mechanism to finance water transfers in Arizona last year.  So now the farming communities are looking for ways to protect their economies and the farmers that support them.  It's a conversation worth having.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Irrigated farming with desal

Water cliche alert.
The former mayor of Phoenix wants to see desalination plants lining the Sea of Cortez to supply future water needs in Northern Mexico and Southern Arizona because he says "water is going to become, if it’s not already, more valuable than gold or oil.”  Apparently the economy is humming along so nicely in Phoenix they believe they are going to be the next Saudi Arabia.  Why Saudi Arabia?  Because that is the only place I know of relying heavily on desalinated water for municipal and industrial (M&I) needs (it may have something to do with the cheap cost of power in that region).  If you're talking about using desal to supply irrigation water (which is where most of the water is used within areas that border the Sea of Cortez) you are in similarly sparse company.  Israel and Spain are about the only places currently using desalinated water for irrigation on anything resembling a large scale and much of that use involves treatment of brackish groundwater rather than seawater.  Those types of waters have a much lower dissolved mineral content than seawater, so production costs are also much lower, but it still isn't cheap water.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Power of Local

My fellow blogger (now retired) Wayne Bossert appears to have created quite a sensation with the Local Enhanced Management Area (LEMA) concept he implemented in the Northwest Kansas Groundwater Management District # 4.  The revolution underway in western Kansas that is attempting to preserve irrigated agriculture in the face of drought, aquifer depletion, and rising crop prices is a bold experiment in local resource management that has recently been highlighted on NPR (two times) and more recently in the Economist.  I'm a big fan of locally developed solutions to resource management problems so I really applaud the efforts that have been made by farmers and water managers in that area.  Their work would surely make Elinor Ostrom proud.  Although some of the problems with the High Plains aquifer are significantly larger than what a single Management District can successfully grapple with I think this model could be employed elsewhere and if implemented sufficiently broadly could actually make a difference for the broader future of farming on the high plains.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Might be time to try a little forebearance

I've been too busy to post anything on the recent announcement by Reclamation that a shortage declaration on the lower Colorado River is likely by 2016.  But when I spotted this (pdf) on the agenda for the most recent board meeting of the Central Arizona Project, it seemed like a good time to chime in.

The fallowing and forebearance agreement between CAP and the Yuma Mesa Irrigation and Drainage District (YMIDD) is a first step to developing a relationship between water users in Arizona along the River and in the Central part of the state to try to forestall shortages to CAP customers. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Here's to you, Mrs. Robinson

Got word in the daily paper today that Priscilla Robinson, a very influential voice in water and environmental policy over the past 40 years in Arizona passed away on Monday.  I didn't know her very well because most of her really momentous work was completed while I was still learning the difference between groundwater and subflow.  And she was someone who worked behind the scenes, helping move the levers of power to bring about important changes in how the state manages groundwater, regulates polluting activities, and protects our natural environment.  She was retired by the time I encountered her at meetings of the City-County Water Study and the Safe Yield Task Force, but you could tell she was someone that the others involved took very seriously.  Other smart people I know have remarked to me what an amazing facilitator she was, which coupled with her ability to comprehend the political processes that got things done, made her extremely effective when she grasped onto an idea that was worth pursuing.

My condolences to her family.  I hope her spirit of compromise and ability to craft workable solutions carries on in all who knew her, worked with her, and understood her passions.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Group Dedicated to Restoring Glen Canyon Wants More Water in Lake Mead and Less in Lake Powell

This article was sent to me in an email earlier this week.  As you might have guessed from the headline, I think their plan is a little self-serving.  That's not to say it is clearly without merit.  I don't have access to the study their conclusion is based on, but I would be very interested to read it.

I agree that seepage into the Navajo sandstone that borders the lake could soak up a significant amount of water stored there, but wouldn't much of what enters the rock during high water periods later exit the rock when the water is low?  Admittedly, some of that water would be bound up in the rock matrix over time, but once that matrix porosity has been filled it can't be refilled again.  So in some sense, the damage has been done and won't be undone by changing the management strategy of the reservoir.  But I would like to see the data and calculations or models that were employed to get a better sense of how they reached their conclusions.